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KSJD Local Newscast - September 22, 2021

Teachers are pleading with school board members to address urgent and critical staff shortages in the Montezuma-Cortez school system.

The pleas came from teachers, principals, and other staff at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday. One of those was middle school teacher Amanda Robinson.

"We are weary, overwhelmed," said Robinson. "And as one staff member said it, are at a tipping point."

And the workforce shortage is creating unsafe conditions, according to staff members like Whitney Rapp, who’s the principal of Manaugh Elementary School.

"I’m emotional about it because our students are not always safe because we don’t have enough staff," said Rapp.

Assistant Superintendent Lis Richard also mentioned safety issues, saying there are "immediate safety concerns" at Pleasant View Elementary.

Teachers also testified that the shortage is hitting students with special needs particularly hard. Some even said they simply aren’t able to provide the behavioral health support for some students that is mandated by both the student handbook and Colorado state law.

And teachers and staff, like middle school teacher Amanda Robinson, demanded action from the board at Tuesday’s meeting.

"We find ourselves in a place needing real, practical and speedy solutions," said Robinson. "Sometimes we just need a band aid."

In response, Superintendent Risha VanderWey and Board President Sherri Wright said they will be taking radical steps to address these issues.

But they also said those steps won’t happen overnight, and that the issues are bigger than just the school district.

At the meeting, the board also expressed support for pay raises for some teachers.

Lucas is the News Director and host of NPR's Morning Edition for KSJD Community Radio. His work focuses on serving the public of the Four Corners with responsible, factual reporting.
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